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Look to Teens

As I read “‘Home Alone’ in the Priesthood,” by Monsignor Eugene Gomulka (8/27), I was struck by a rather distressing thought: “They complain endlessly about the lack of new blood in the priesthood and its effects, but they never seem to propose anything to remedy it.” It is universally accepted that ordinations are declining and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Why should this be so? If other professions recruit, why not the priesthood?

Is it unrealistic to think that today’s youth aren’t ready to listen? Music is often an excellent indicator of trends within the teenage community. If one were to use it to measure the faith of teenagers, one would come to the conclusion that religious faith is alive and well among members of the MTV generation. Christian rock is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, enjoying a rise so meteoric that it was featured on the cover of Newsweek, one of the country’s most widely read weekly publications. Church youth groups are springing up left and right, often with membership numbered in the hundreds. A Gallup poll (4/99) found “support for the idea of undergirding life with spiritual moorings.”

To say that a trend toward hurried, overworked, anxiety-ridden, lonely priests doing ever more work is irreversible is to take a self-defeating attitude. Churches need to find teens where they spend most of their time and to suppress any shyness they might have about seeking out potential members of the priesthood. Tomorrow’s priests are out there, if only the church would look for them.

Matt Schrader

Phoenix, Ariz.

The Wrong Vulgate

“Liturgiam Authenticam and the New Vulgate” (8/13) by Joseph Jensen, O.S.B., secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association in the United States, together with press reports of the letter from Richard Clifford, S.J, to all the U.S. bishops were interesting indeed. But in one respect they were in error. The absolutely splendid edition of the Vulgate produced by the Benedictines of St. Jerome’s Monastery (now combined with the Stuttgart revisions) is not the Nova Vulgata.

That distinction is reserved for the version produced by the commission under the presidency of Edward Schick, Bishop of Fulda, in response to the request of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council for a new critical edition of the Psalter using the vocabulary of the church Fathers (Sacrosanctum Concilium IV, 91).

This commission was formed by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and began working during the council. The next year, on Nov. 29, 1965, the Pope’s motu proprio extended the revision to the whole Vulgate. The first drafts were published in 1970 by the Vatican Press, and a full edition in 1979. Incidentally, the text was not “frozen in 1979.” Kurt Aland, the great text critic of Stuttgart, produced four editions of the Neo-Vulgate between 1984 and 1992, and in the preface of Sept. 30, 1983, he thanks Bishop Schick for sending him the lists of changes made in the text since the edition of 1979. Apparently some in the C.B.A. do not know as much about the Bible as we had always assumed.

(Rev.) Robert J. Mullins

St. Cloud, Minn.

Good Deeds Remain

I wish to thank you for your insightful article “Celebrating Dorothy Day” (8/27) by Stephen T. Krupa, S.J. While I have long known of the important role she played in encouraging a more socially just church, I had no idea of how she came to develop her ideas. I was pleased to see that she is now among those being considered for sainthood, despite the actions of her youth. It is encouraging to see the good deeds in one’s life not being erased due to points of ideology from which she deviated in her youth. I am glad to see such good people being highlighted as heroes for once.

Parnell Maxwell

Phoenix, Ariz.

Difficult Waiting

As a woman, a religious, a former educator and, at present, an activist for social justice, but mostly as a Catholic who loves the church and the world in which I live, I read with great eagerness and, frankly, emotion the articles in the August 27 issue on the magisterium, on religion in public schools and on the priesthood.

I remember clearly the day on which I picked up and read the summaries of the U.S. bishops’ letters on the economy and on peace published in the Catholic Update series (St. Anthony Messenger Press). They were like a breath of fresh air, giving me a sense of hope and expectation for the implementation of the Second Vatican Council and for the future of the church and, indeed of the world. While by faith I am sure that in time “all shall be well” for both, the waiting becomes more and more difficult and painful.

Our priests are becoming fewer, the good ones overworked and the older ones tired, while the magisterium refuses to acknowledge that celibacy is a “state of life” to be chosen for its own sake, not as a provision for ordination. Our legislators spend time and money debating the use of standards for testing and what constitutes a violation of separation of church and state, while our children are deprived of the arts and blocked, through fear of its being labeled “religious,” from adequate exposure to the values that make us truly human. The laity continue to lack a voice either in the church or, as it seems presently, in the just distribution of the nations’ monies and become, as a consequence, seemingly more and more disillusioned and/or apathetic about those things that really matter.

In trying to bring this letter to a close, I picked up the issue and opened to the article “Perennially Hopeful” by Alma Roberts Giordan. I guess I’ll have to be like that squirrel that did not give up his quest for food, or like the author who was able to find hope in the “exultant song of a cardinal.”

Mary T. Legge

Bayonne, N.J.

Sage Advice

God bless the mind of and heart of Cardinal Avery Dulles for the wisdom and solace of his comments in “Never to Despair” (9/17). In light of the horror of the terrorist attack on America, his words are remarkably appropriate and clairvoyant when he says that “neither suffering nor death, evil though each of them is, should be regarded as unredeemable. The only absolute and unqualified evil is sin, which brings everlasting death.” Like millions of other Americans, I found it difficult to believe that God could allow such a monstrous atrocity to be visited on us. Such evil is better understood with the help of Cardinal Dulles’s sage advice that “tragedies such as the Holocaust make it imperative to rise to the level of faith...which teaches us to hope against hope, and never to despair.” We now add to the list of world horrors the terrorist violation of America, but we are now filled with hope, thanks to Cardinal Dulles, that God is with us in our tears.

Edward J. Thompson

Farmingdale, N.Y.

Interfaith Marriages

I was very happy to read “When Muslims and Christians Marry,” by Rita George Tvrkovic (9/10), reporting how well many people are handling interfaith marriages, even though it is difficult. As many know, Catholic partners in such marriages promise to do all in their power to raise their children in their faith. When this is accomplished, I believe many in the church forget how difficult this is for the non-Catholic partner to do, with all of its attendant problems. Therefore I was most happy to read also “The God of Abraham Comes to a Baptism,” by Terry Golway, speaking about the God of Abraham present in the prayers spoken at a Catholic baptism out of respect for the Jewish father and his family. For the sake of further ecumenical benefit, I would suggest that, since only one godparent must be Christian, we might have an official witness to the ceremony representing the non-Catholic family. As such marriages become more and more common in our society, in the spirit of Christ we should do all in our power to respect those who allow their children to be baptized in the Catholic faith.

Gerard Graziano

Hackensack, N.J.

Comments

Joseph Jensen, O.S.B. | 1/26/2007 - 10:03am
The letter from the Rev. Robert Mullins, “The Wrong Vulgate” (10/1) is a tissue of false and misleading statements. It was the Catholic Biblical Association’s executive board, not Richard Clifford, S.J., that sent a letter to all the bishops to introduce an article by Father Clifford. Father Mullins bases his statements on a misreading of a newspaper report, though the relevant documents were easily available on the C.B.A. Web page. My article did not identify Nova Vulgata with the critical edition of the Vulgate of San Giralomo, as he states, but says that it is a “revision” (i.e., a reworking) of that work (see the article of A.-L. Descamps, secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in Esprit et Vie, 1979, pages 598-603). Father Mullins’s assertion of four editions of Nova Vulgata between 1984 and 1992 is likewise erroneous. We were quite aware of the editio typica altera of 1986 (which Father Mullins does not mention); it is referred to in our letter to the bishops (and in Liturgiam Authenticam [footnote 33]). But there is so little changed in the text of that edition that it is no exaggeration to say that the Nova Vulgata of 1979 was “set in concrete.” The “editions” Father Mullins refers to are not editions of Nova Vulgata at all, but utilizations of the Nova Vulgata’s New Testament text (only) in two editions of a Greek-Latin New Testament edited by Barbara and Kurt Aland, the first edition (1983) using the 1979 text and the second edition (1991) using the 1986 edition.

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